Photo Credit: Digital Sports Photography
Ever notice how some teams perform better at tournaments than during regular season play? Getting your team to play well during a tournament can sometimes require a different approach to how you might prepare for any other game.
Coaching a single game can be an experience on its own. When a tournament comes around, teams often play multiple games in one day. That means there are a whole lot of other factors that come into play and keeping your team focused throughout the weekend is another responsibility. With the competition level increased, this is an opportunity for teams to be tested in a way they may not otherwise encounter during the year.
A tournament can be the highlight of a season. There are many offered throughout the province for teams of all ages and skill levels. It’s a weekend that is circled on the calendar – it often means hitting the road to play against other teams that you wouldn’t otherwise face off against.
Going into a tournament, the goal is obviously to perform the best that your team can. As the voice of the team, coaches will need to be able to adapt for the unique challenges that a tournament setting brings.
With a handful of games squeezed into a short amount of time will be necessary to use all of your players. We’ve emphasized why it is important to have equal playing time among your skaters and goalies and tournaments are a perfect example of why this is physically necessary to do. Keep your players engaged throughout the weekend – remember, tournaments can often be the highlight of a season and everyone will want to remember how much fun they had together as a TEAM both on and off the ice.
It will be a busy weekend and players will need to conserve their energy. Players should still be properly warmed up and stretched before a game as it puts their headspace back into game mode. The focus should be on being able to perform once the whistle goes. The last thing your team wants is tired, sluggish players when they may not need to be.
On days with such intense physical activity that your players will encounter during tournaments it’s important they give themselves the right fuel to keep themselves playing at their best. Pre-planning meals is a great way to ensure players eat healthy as well as save on some costs. Doing a grocery run during the weekend to pick up fruits, vegetables and snacks for the team can build good eating habits as well.
Take full advantage of the weekend by scheduling some ‘extra-curricular’ activities outside of the tournament schedule. Go sightseeing or plan a team dinner. Players will love the time away from the rink and hotel to be able to reset and hang out with their teammates outside of a hockey setting. They can come into the next game or day feeling fresh and ready to hit the ice again. Players will also need the time to mentally recharge if they had a bad game.
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